Tips on New Google Metatags: How to Protect Your Content

Google recently announced the creation of new metatags to protect original content, so I thought it was as good a time as any to brush up a little, on the topic. My understanding of these new tags, is they for now, apply only to Google News.

According to Google, the new metatags are an experiment, allowing journalists to give more credit to original sources as well as better protecting their own original content, which includes mish-mashes, paraphrased summaries, and analyses of others’ content (see Matt McGee’s Search Engine Land post to see if you agree with this interpretation).

These additional links explain more about the new syndication-source and original-source tags:

Metatags 101

The Google Webmaster Tools Help site explains that metatags are added to the <head> section of your HTML page, providing search engines with information about your site. For more information, check out these resources:

  • Meta Tag Explained: Describes the two types of tags available: the Meta description tags and the Meta keywords tags. (Note: Neither tag is a Google ranking factor, according to a Google announcement, in Sept. 2009).
  • SEOMoz’s Meta Description: Describes the meta description tag and provides a cheat sheet for the HTML code. Also provides a useful tip that if you are targeting the long-tail, it’s sometimes better not to include a meta description. It is better to include the description, when you are targeting 1-3 heavily-searched terms/phrases.
  • Meta Tags Uncovered: Describes the two known styles/attributes that you’ll see for meta tags as well as a history on the abuse of keyword meta tags. Explains how Google currently only indexes Google Meta Tags. Provides a helpful list of recommended tags, optional tags, and not recommended tags.

Why Should You Use Metatags?

The posts below describe how using metatags helps you get found.

How to Write Metatags and Descriptions

The following links provide general guidance on writing metatags and descriptions:

  • How to Write Keyword Meta Tags: Explains that it’s important to understand how to write and use keyword tags. Though keyword metatags are not considered an important factor in search engine optimization (SEO), some search engines still pay attention to them.
  • How to Write Meta Tags and Descriptions:  Warns against over-stuffing meta information, with keywords and phrases.

Through the new syndication-source and original-source tags, Google metatags are certainly powerful, as they can help protect your original content as well as give due credit to others. In a similar way, misusing these metatags can earn you stiff penalties.

Applying metatags is also plain good usability, as it always has been.

Though keyword metadata may rank lower in search engines’ weighting factors, it’s important to remember that some search engines still take metadata into account. Metadata also makes your information more accessible and likely to be clicked on in search results.

For intended searchers’ sakes alone, and especially for those with disabilities who often rely on the metatag descriptions for further context, it’s worth the relatively small investment of time to incorporate these helpful tags.

Do you have any additional recommendations on resources about metadata or SEO? any advice or other feedback about the application of these tags? Please feel free to include your thoughts, in the comments.

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

Blogging: A New Role for Technical Communicators

Attention Technical Writers: Through Summit at a Click, The Society for Technical Communication is making the content—both the audio and visuals—of more than 90 sessions, available from the 2009 Summit in Atlanta. (Only progressions, keynote, and workshop sessions were excluded.)

Note: According to the STC site, “If you paid the conference registration fee, SUMMIT@aClick was included. STC Members who did not attend the Summit may purchase SUMMIT@aClick at an introductory price of $595. Nonmembers may purchase it for $895.”

Of special relevance here is Tom Johnson’s session, Blogging: A New Role for Technical Communicators, which the STC has made available for free to demonstrate SUMMIT@aClick.

In his session, Johnson, the well-known blogger at I’d Rather Be Writing: A Blog about the Latest Trends in Technical Communication, makes the following case for technical communicators, as natural corporate bloggers:

  • Technical communicators often possess literary and creative writing skills, in addition to traditional technical communication skills. Most technical communicators are writing specialists.
  • Typically, technical communicators focus on information, not hype. Information is what many searchers are looking for on the social web.
  • Technical communicators have direct access to projects, including project managers, product managers, and technical subject matter experts.
  • Technical communicators are well-accustomed to working reporter-style, already gathering and synthesizing information, as part of their day-to-day jobs.
  • Through indexing documentation deliverables and their attention to consistent terminology, technical communicators are used to paying attention to keywords, and are able to come up to speed quickly on SEO basics.
  • Again, natural writers at heart, many technical communicators would be easily incentivized to blog and to diversify their writing deliverables.

Reporting on the results of an informal survey on Twitter, Johnson noted that the #1 perceived value of blogging is increased visibility for your brand, whether that brand is corporate or personal. From there, he provides a nice overview of basic search engine optimization techniques, including using the keywords people are searching for in the first few words of your title and first paragraph. Johnson further explains the importance of backlinks, and how Google trusts other people’s opinions of your site, more than your site’s own content.

For me, Johnson’s tips on using your own personal voice and transparency to tell the story of your brand were particularly helpful…”It’s the story that makes blogging appealing,” Johnson explains, citing as an example, a technical writing blog, where the author shares professional wisdom, via a series of stories drawn from his own career.

Like Johnson, I agree that technical communicators are ideally positioned on cross functional teams to be highly effective bloggers, especially given their strong writing abilities, access to information, and reporter-like ability to synthesize content from a variety of sources. Where I believe technical communicators can learn a great deal from their more customer-facing and management colleagues, is from the relationship-building, and yes, business strategy, that we sometimes lose sight of, in the pure pursuit of information.

In my opinion, the blogger who can bring all those ingredients together—information, relationship-building, and strategy—within the framework of a story that represents what your brand is all about, in an engaging way—that’s who should be blogging for your company, no matter what the discipline. In all likelihood, “that person” is probably a combination of a few people in your company, who could work together collaboratively in a group blog format, which to me seems the most sustainable format, in a corporate setting.

Related Links: Technical Writing Blogs

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Links of Note: Search Engine Marketing

This post includes my inaugural contributions to MarketingProfs Get to the Po!nt newsletters, which ran this past June through August, under search marketing.

Get to the Po!nt newsletters provide bite-size nuggets of information, with entertaining summaries of articles from leading marketing resources, including actionable steps and a concluding point to incorporate into marketing strategy.

Since I started contributing to these newsletters, I’ve benefited greatly working with MarketingProfs editorial staff, whose lively voice and copyedits help ensure that the broader series of Get to the Po!nt newsletters are consistently engaging, informative, and actionable.

If you are interested in receiving Get to the PoInt newsletters, you can sign up for free here, on a wide range of topics, including High-Tech MKG & Sales, Search Engine Marketing, Marketing Analytics, Interactive Marketing, B2B Marketing, Email Marketing, Customer Insight, Small Business, and Marketing Inspiration.

Here are my MarketingProfs newsletter contributions, from this past summer:

  • Meet the SEO Royal Family: Advises placing a greater focus on the SEO Royal Family, including content, usability, and relevance, to optimize website conversion rates.
  • Serving Up the Perfect SEO Sandwich:  Provides tips on how to keep your in-house SEO effort moving forward, by guiding the conversation among the three ‘sandwich’ levels of stakeholders (executives, management, and everyone else) in your organization.
  • Where SEO Yin Meets SM Yang: To extend your reach and facilitate engagement, advises factoring in the value of search and social media into your content strategy.
  • Feeling Left Out? Link Up at Home?: Provides tips on optimizing your internal navigation to boost your page rankings from the inside out.
  • Peeling This Doesn’t Make You Cry: Describes how digging deeper into that SEO onion “offers a great competitive advantage—unlike paid search, where anyone can beat you out with a better keyword bid.” Provides tips for optimizing the two main layers of SEO: on-page factors and off-page factors.
  • Form the Perfect SEO Storm: Advises thinking beyond SEO best practices and keeping in mind how non-SEO factors also drive organic traffic.

I summarized articles for these newsletters from the following search and online marketing blogs: Search Engine Land, TopRank Online Marketing Blog, Search Engine Guide, MarketingProfs, and Search Engine Watch.

Do you have suggestions on any additional resources for SEO or search engine marketing? What SEO topics interest you the most?

Photo credit, a2gemma

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Links of Note, July 2009: SEO and Search Marketing (Microsoft/Yahoo Merger)

 Here are links of note, which I compiled this past July from my Twitter stream, on SEO and search engine marketing. Link categories for this post include SEO & PPC Budgets, the Microsoft/Yahoo Search Deal, General Search Engines News, and Search Engine & Mobile News.

The big search news last month was of course the Microsoft/Yahoo deal.

SEO & PPC Budgets

SEO & PPC budgets Set to Double by 2014:

In a BlogStorm post, Patrick Altoft calls attention to new figures from Forrester, which predict Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) spending will increase steadily over the next 5 years. According to the report, “interactive marketing will near $55 billion and represent 21% of all marketing spending in 2014, as marketers shift dollars away from traditional media and toward search marketing, display advertising, email marketing, social media, and mobile marketing.” The report further points out the discrepancy between how much brands are willing to spend on PPC today as opposed to SEO, despite how much more traffic SEO drives to sites: “In some industries brands are spending 10-20 times as much on PPC as SEO and yet natural search drives over 75% of all search traffic.”

Microsoft/Yahoo Search Deal

The Microsoft-Yahoo Search Deal, In Simple Terms:

This Search Engine Land post describes how Yahoo’s going to give up their search technology and instead lease Microsoft’s search technology. When you complete a search at Yahoo, sometime starting between summer to fall of 2010, “you’ll get results back just like you get now. The main difference is at the bottom of the page, it’ll say, ‘Powered By Bing.'” The deal represents the two companies cooperating with and competing against each other, at the same time.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has been positioning Google as a “search engine” and Yahoo as a portal where “people find relevant contextual content about things they care about.” “By outsourcing search, Bartz argues Yahoo can do a better job with its content areas.” Microsoft gains from this merger because it wants to compete with Google.

In this deal, the post further explains that you’ll now be able to buy both Yahoo and Microsoft ads at the same time. “That lets you reach 30% of the market in one go,” as opposed to 20% with Yahoo and 10% with Microsoft.” (“If you buy an ad with Google today, you reach around 70 percent of the search market in the United States.”)

Microsoft and Yahoo Confirm Search Deal:

ITPro reports that under the deal, “Microsoft will run the search side while Yahoo will handle sales for both firms. Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer said that the deal will give his own firm’s new search engine Bing the scale to compete with Google.

The 10-year agreement will give Microsoft exclusive licence to Yahoo’s search tech, letting the Redmond firm use it in its own search tools. Microsoft’s Bing will be the main search tool, but Yahoo will still “own” its sites.

Yahoo will run the search advertising side, but Microsoft’s own AdCentre platform will continue to set pricing, and each firm will keep its own advertising and sales staff.

Yahoo-Microsoft Search Deal ~ The Key Facts:

In a post at Mashable.com, Stan Schroeder provides the key facts on the Yahoo-Microsoft search deal:

“Yahoo is cutting costs by ditching its own search, and Microsoft is becoming Google’s biggest competitor when it comes to search; it is also cutting costs by letting Yahoo handle ad sales for premium search advertisers.”

  • “Microsoft’s Bing will now be the search engine on all Yahoo sites.”
  • “Yahoo will provide the relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.”
  • “Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising business.”
  • “Self-serve advertising for both companies will go through Microsoft’s AdCenter platform.”
  • “Microsoft will compensate Yahoo through a revenue sharing agreement on traffic generated on Yahoo’s network.”
  • “The term of the agreement is 10 years.”

Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal Changes for SEO:

According to Rand Fish, SEOmoz‘s CEO, and co-founder, here are the ten ways the Microsoft/Yahoo deal changes SEO:

  1. “SEO for Bing is Worth Your Optimization Effort.” (“Even if the lowest numbers are accurate, 15% of search market share is worth the optimization effort.” “Bing’s traffic is, in general, also more likely to convert and click on ads.”)
  2. We May Lose Yahoo! Link Data.”
  3. “PPC Consolidation.”
  4. “Bing’s Webmaster Tools Are Important.”
  5. “Yahoo! & Bing Local Become More Essential.”
  6. “Bing Will Get more Spam.”
  7. “Bing Will Get Lots more Data.”
  8. “Important Yahoo! Properties May Disappear.”
  9. “Yahoo! Maintains UI Control for their Search Experience.”
  10. “Yahoo! Will Become a More Powerful Content Competitor.”
    “With Yahoo! out of the core search business, many people, myself included, expect them to focus even more on the content side of the business. That means properties inside Yahoo! News & Media Group are going to get more attention and more investment. If you’re competing with Yahoo!’s content now, that battle may get tougher in the future.”

General Search Engines News

Meet Bing, Microsoft’s New Search Engine:

This Search Engine Land post describes how Microsoft’s former “Live Search” search engine  now officially has a new name “Bing,” in addition to an $80 million marketing budget. “The new name and some new features represent Microsoft’s quest to best Google in the search engine wars.” The post reports that the most significant change is how Bing organizes search results into categories (also known as clustering). “Google also has a form of clustering, called related search suggestions, though it’s nowhere near as dramatic as what Bing does.” The post points to two companion Search Engine Land posts: Microsoft’s Bing Vs Google: Head To Head Search Results and State Of Search: Google Will Stay Strong Despite Bing & Yahoo.

Yahoo Dominates The Web, Just Not In Search:

In a Search Engine Land post just before the Microsoft/Yahoo search deal, Barry Schwartz cited Jordan Golson’s Gigaom post, which noted that though Yahoo is not number one in search, it is number one in so many other areas, including these Yahoo properties: News, Finance, Sports, Mail, Entertainment, and Games (near tie). Golson points out that Yahoo Answers most likely also dominates that category on the web.

Search Engine & Mobile News

Google Mobile Advertising: It’s Time to Start:

In a Search Engine Watch post, David Szetela reports that Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said, “…mobile advertising [will] generate more revenue than advertising on today’s Web.” To reinforce why mobile Pay Per Click advertising will become increasingly important, Szetela describes the following paradigm shifts:

  • All phones will eventually be “Smartphones” — essentially handheld computers.
  • For most people on the planet, their first — and only — Internet-enabled personal computer will be their phone.
  • The tiny-screen problem will become irrelevant.

How will Microsoft-Yahoo Deal affect Mobile?:

According to The Mobile Marketer‘s Dan Butcher, “Yahoo and Microsoft claim that their deal will be a game-changer for Web search and will drive innovation. But mobile seems to have gotten only a cursory nod from the alliance.” Analyzing the potential impact on mobile, he cites among others, Steve Baldwin, editor in chief of Didit, New York, as stating:

Microsoft is making big moves in the mobile area right now, especially in terms of its deal for Bing to provide default search services for Verizon, whose installed base of users is approximately 85 million,” he said.

“I cannot speculate on how its new arrangement with Yahoo might strengthen its offerings on such phones, but now that Yahoo and Microsoft are on newly friendly terms additional synergies do present themselves.”

Mr. Baldwin believes that having access to a much higher volume of search query data will help it realize some of the promises its targeting technologies have offered marketers for some time now.

Rachel Pasqua, director of mobile strategy at iCrossing, New York adds her take on the Microsoft/Yahoo deal’s impact on mobile search:

 “As a rule, we see people using the same search tools on their mobile that the do on their desktop and that means Google still has the advantage.

“That said, the benefits for both are obvious—Yahoo can stop worrying about search and concentrate their efforts on mobile product and content design, places where they’ve really excelled, and where Microsoft has always been lacking,” she said.

“And Microsoft gets to add Yahoo’s estimated 34.6 percent to their own mobile search market share, but that still won’t put them over 50 percent.”

Search Engines Fail Users in Finding Mobile Sites: Mobi Tech:

In The Mobile Marketer, Dan Butcher reports that “Mobi Tech International Inc. has tossed its hat into the ring of mobile search with the release of the Mobi iNet mobile application, challenging category leaders Google and Yahoo to a fight.” According to Mobi Tech, “more times than not the trusted Internet search engines like Google continue to return search results on smartphones that direct you to full desktop Web sites and not mobile-friendly sites.”

Mobi Tech believes “that people will still want to use Google or Yahoo, so the company has included the mobile-friendly versions of these search engines and others right inside Mobi iNet under the category “Search Engines.” Mobi Tech contends, however, “that while on a smartphone some people will want to use a standard search engine some of the time, but most people will want to use the mobile-friendly search of Mobi iNet most of the time.”

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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog